On any given weekend at Mountainview, we have many different types of people. Young and old, black and white, people who love bluegrass and those who don’t know better.
In the same room, we have the decided and the undecided. We have people who have said yes to Jesus and those who have given him an outright no. We have more than a few maybe’s in the crowd. That’s one of the things I love the most about our church.
That’s why I want to be upfront about this post: I’m talking primarily to the decided – to those who are living the baptized life.
Our mission as a church is to help you become better at the Great Commission, the call of Jesus to go into the world and make disciples.
We all have friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members that we would love to see have a relationship with Jesus. Over the next few minutes I want to share some practical advice and close with a challenge.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. — Colossians 4:2-4
For many Christ-followers, the most frightening part about sharing their faith is getting the conversation started. According to the Apostle Paul, the first conversation to have is with God.
Let me put it for you this way: Before you talk to someone about God, it’s a good idea to have talked to God about them first.
Paul breaks down prayer in two ways: how to pray and what to pray for.
He mentions three aspects of how we to pray when praying for our non-Christian friends:
Be Devoted. If something (or someone) is priority, we will be devoted to it. If we want to see our friends and neighbors find their way back to God, prayer must be a priority.
Be Watchful. Being watchful means being alert — paying attention. We must pray informed prayers, not uninformed. Specific prayer is always better than generic prayer.
Be Thankful. When praying for a friend to come to know Jesus, what is there to be thankful for? Personally, I’m thankful it doesn’t entirely depend upon you or me!
Next, Paul tells us two things to pray for:
For God to open a door for his message. An open door is a receptive heart. It’s a person who is prepared to hear the good news. I hope this is one of your regular prayers for our church – to have open hearts.
For us to proclaim the message clearly. We don’t have to make the gospel more powerful; we just have to make it clear. I need you to pray this prayer for me and for everyone who has the opportunity to put in a good word for Jesus (and that includes you).
Sharing your faith begins with your prayers. But at some point it will also involve interacting with people who are far from God. This is where we move out of the prayer closet and into the conference room.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:5-6
If we want to see people turn back to God and not away from God, how we interact with them is crucial. Here is Paul’s advice:
Be wise. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders.
It’s obvious that Paul didn’t know about political correctness – to talk about insiders and outsiders. Any church that takes Jesus seriously believes there are insiders and outsiders. But here’s key: we want the outsider to become an insider.
We don’t want our friends and neighbors to walk outside of the favor of God and the promise of heaven. We don’t want them to be burdened by guilt and shame.
A healthy church will walk towards the outsider, not away from them. A stagnant, declining church wants to keep the outsider on the outside.
Be intentional. Make the most of every opportunity.
Over the next few months you’ll have the opportunity to watch a lot of football. The difference between good running back and great running back isn’t necessarily speed; it’s the ability to spot openings and run through them.
If you are praying for God to open a door with your co-worker, I believe he will. His job is to create the opportunity; your job is to make the most of it.
Be nice. Let your conversational be gracious and redemptive.
Never underestimate the power of your words. A judge says a few words, and a person’s life is saved or condemned. A doctor speaks a few words, and a patient either rejoices or despairs.
Your words have the power to take a door that God opens and use it to bring a person closer to Jesus. They also have the power to slam the door shut.
I want Mountainview to be a Colossians 4 kind of church — devoted to prayer, wise in the way we act toward outsiders, and making the most of every opportunity.
It’s one reason I’m excited about the start of our remodel. I know some of you might be wondering why … why now? Why this much?
People move to South Denver for a reason – for a certain lifestyle. They move here for the amenities, the open space, the recreation centers. They move here because they believe it’s a step up.
As a Christ-follower and a pastor, I have two choices: I can complain about how people in my neighborhood are superficial and too materialistic — or I can try to reach them and allow God to change their hearts and minds.
As a church, we have chosen to reach them and our building is simply a strategy. We want your friends to feel comfortable when they walk in. We want their children to have an environment specific to them.
We want this building to be your partner.
I know it is possible that some of you might be reading this and find all of this somewhat confusing.
You know you need something, but you don’t know what it is. You’ve heard about the church and what a difference it makes and so you’ve come. Maybe your here today because a friend you respect invited you – I’m glad you’re here.
But I must also tell you something. What makes a difference in these people’s lives is not the church. It’s not the preacher.
Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God in the flesh. He felt our pain. He endured our hostility. He faced what we face and all for one reason – he loves us.
He loves you.